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sidpatel

Myth or Fact ?? :: Loosen the strings if not playing for a long time..

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Hi Friends,

Being a newbie, I have a small doubt...

Is it good to loosen the strings if not

playing for a long time??

I have heard that if I dont loosen the

strings ( if not playing for a long time ),

then the neck would bend, resulting

in increased space between the string

and the board ( requiring more effort to play).

Thank You !! :)

--Sid

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We've had a couple of questions on this, I did a bit of research and the information I found generally says loosen the strings if you're storing your guitar for a few months, I don't know what the experience of other members with this is but I've found my strings do move and it appears to depend on the conditions in my little studio/shed sometimes I pick the guitar up and they've tightened sometimes they've slackened so even if I'm not playing that day I now give it a quick tune, I had a bit of a funny experience with my oldest guitar a little Spanish guitar I bought 34 years ago, it was stuck in my attic at the Family home for years but I rescued it, it was though unplayable the action was way high, I bought it home noodled with it for a few days then put it back in it's case and it spent 8 years in my sons room doing nothing, I decided to move it in to the studio a couple of months ago and pulled it out of the case, I was a bit surprised to find that the neck had straightened and the action was low again, needs a bit of work but it did move a fair bit over those 8 years and It was a nice surprise.

So in my opinion I would slacken the strings a little bit but not right down, also as they are wood they do tend to move a bit so if you store it make sure it's in a place that is dry but has a pretty consistent temperature preferably not too hot or too cold, the biggest enemy to guitars in my opinion is humidity or damp that's a killer, hope this helps a bit Sidpatel:winkthumb:

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Hi Stars !!,

Thanks for that wonderful explanation...

But what still remains in my mind is that

would the long neck of the guitar bend if

the strain if too high ( when not playing

for long periods of time )

And if the neck does bend from the middle,

then the playing would get a bit more difficult.

--Sid.:)

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Hi again Sidpatel, well it does depend on the guitar you have, most steel string acoustics or electrics have a truss rod, Nylon string guitars usually don't, slackening the strings off a bit will stop the tension getting too high, if strings tighten too much they will generally snap, they'll surrender before the neck does, also and this is what I've noticed on mine, it's usually the bass strings, the A and the E that move the most and they are the heaviest strings the rest don't seem to move around much, the ones in most danger again in my opinion are classicals, if the neck starts moving it can break.

With steel string acoustics or electrics if the action does go a bit high or low a set up would have to be done and the truss rod adjusted which needs someone with a degree of knowledge to do as over tightening the truss rod is bad news.

The best way to avoid too much tension is just a little turn down of the tuning keys, mine haven't ever tightened to the point of neck stress or slackened off to a great degree, even when stored for a while, I have one here that I haven't played for months just tuned down a bit and it's still ok.

I'm not into high action it's hard work especially for a beginner, good for slide guitar but not for standard use, If the action on your guitar is making it difficult to play and you aren't confident you can do it yourself I'd always say take it to a tech and get a set up done if there's one around, this does cost a little bit so it really would depend on the value of the guitar or how much it means to you. if it's a nylon strung and the necks moved that's pretty serious and not as easy to fix. But if it's steel strung and the necks still flat then it might just need a truss rod adjustment.

Some of the Tech Members here will be able to answer this question better than me but I hope this is of some help to you, Welcome to the forum by the way good to have you here.:winkthumb:

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Hello sidpatel and welcome to the forum...

+1 to Chris above...

I don't know if the neck bends when the guitar is stored away for a long time,but personally I am against of loosenng and tightening the strings often.I had to face the same questton when I had to leave my guitars behind leaving for home.I didn't loosen the strings at all and as far as now I didn't notice any problems.On the contrary,I was surprised to see that the guitars stayed in tune!!...

All the best,

Theo

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Hi Stars and Thodwris,

Thanks a lot for the informative text...

I have just started playing.....and its

very good to have guys like you around..:) :)

Thanks .....!!!

--Sid

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Hello Sid...

Be sure that in here there will always be someone to help with anything,so whatever you want to ask,just go ahead and do it.No thanks needed...The best of luck learning to play the guitar and a warm welcome to the beautiful world of music.Have fun...

All the best,

Theo

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The main concern is that the constant tension on the bridge from an unplayed guitar starts to pull up the bridge towards the neck. Over time this raises the action eventually to the point that the bridge has to be shaved down or the guitar becomes unplayable. This is not a short term process. A few months won't do it. Getting close to year and up begins to see this happening. Very common to see on rediscovered guitars that have sat in a relatives closet for years.

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I bought a G&L Strat in a pawn shop for $60 back in the 80's. Never learned to play and stored it in a closet for about 20 years before pulling it back out to give it another go. Never seemed to affect it and I didn't loosen the strings.

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This question will probably never get a definitive answer. We've discussed it before and chances are we'll discuss it again in the future.

I agree with both Starsailor and Fly.

Fly mentioned his strat. Well my belief is that strats are tough. Solid body, bolted in neck, they won't distort with twice the string tension. So don't bother to loosen the strings.

But the acoustics are not tough. The neck may have a length of steel in it (or may not) but the body is a box, and it's generally made flimsy to project the best sound. The soundboard isn't braced nearly enough to withstand punishment. It's designed for careful use. The neck itself may be strong, but it can adopt a funny (expensive) angle with the body if the guitar is maltreated. It's a sad sight when the bridge drags the soundboard up, or when the neck points so high you can't fret the strings.

An acoustic guitar likely won't change shape if it is stored for a few years with loose strings, but I wouldn't risk mine being stored with tight strings.

Just my opinion.

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Why would strings that are not being played increase their tension?

Good question, it's to do with Temperature changes I think, the strings like the rest of the guitar react to them, the whole guitar reacts to the changes, most of the time not violently unless it's extremely hot or extremely cold, humidity also affects them again it's the extremes that are the killer.

Sticking to the strings though and just going through my experience, I've just tuned my guitar, all the strings were too high or sharp not a lot just a bit but they moved during the night and all in the same direction E,A,D, were higher than the G,B,E. I live in a pretty temperate climate but at the moment it's reasonably warm during the day for the UK and getting colder at night. As it's summer I don't have the heating on in my little Studio and play most days, I can only assume that the changes occur when it's colder at night. The majority of the time in the Winter I have a heater on low in here and the temperature is pretty constant and the strings don't move around much. Yesterday I tuned my guitar all of them were a tiny bit low so somethings going on with the environment.

Yesterday I tuned my Guitar at 12.00 GMT, today I tuned my guitar at 15.00 GMT, in my opinion the temperature changes are having some sort of affect on it, the studio is comfortably dry and humidity doesn't vary to a great deal,. I actually have a hygrometer for that which may sound a bit over the top but it works for me, don't actually check the humidity in the guitar itself though not too sure what the difference would be compared to the room.

I'm no expert on this but Temperature definitely plays a part in the tension on my strings. Unless I'm missing something, my guitar may be eccentric like me:)

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Personally, loosening the strings is not something I`ve ever bothered with doing. It`s more important to store the guitar in a stable (Temperature & Humidity wise) and to make sure it won`t be accidentally damaged.

I ask myself what it could be about actually playing a guitar that would stop the neck bending, or the bridge lifting under string tension. The tension is still there - maybe very slightly more so given bending and fretting.

Maybe those old guitars with lifting saddles bent necks and bulging soundboards would have failed anyway.

Wood is a natural, variable building material. If you are building a house with it, there is an element of over engineering to allow for the fact that parts of the structure, even parts from the same tree will be weaker than others.

Many aspects of guitar construction - weight, thickness of the neck, need to respond to vibration etc. preclude this over building.

There will be instruments that can`t take the strain.

Will

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100% agree with Will, it don't matter if you play it or not....eventually, the neck will/won't warp, the bridge will/won't lift, the top will/won't bulge.

It comes down to how sound the the piece of wood used for the neck, top and bracing is! In a factory built guitar it's very random.

Bridge problems are usually related to glue issues.

Detuning the guitar for 6 months (when it's not being played) certainly won't hurt, it may even add 6 months to it's life:yes:

Guitars going in and out of tune with temperature variation are a normal occurrence. In summer my guitars can go a semitone or more out in 24 hours...your not eccentric Chris :winkthumb:

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How about when I change the strings on my guitar? I always loosen all the strings till all tension is off the neck then I cut all of them off, clean and condition the fretboard and restring. Anyone see any long term damage to the neck by taking the all the strings off and putting them back on everytime I restring (appx every other week)?

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100% agree with Will, it don't matter if you play it or not....eventually, the neck will/won't warp, the bridge will/won't lift, the top will/won't bulge.

It comes down to how sound the the piece of wood used for the neck, top and bracing is! In a factory built guitar it's very random.

Bridge problems are usually related to glue issues.

Detuning the guitar for 6 months (when it's not being played) certainly won't hurt, it may even add 6 months to it's life:yes:

Guitars going in and out of tune with temperature variation are a normal occurrence. In summer my guitars can go a semitone or more out in 24 hours...your not eccentric Chris :winkthumb:

That's the newbie in me, I was quite curious about the variations and a bit obsessed with getting the conditions right in my bolt hole, we're a bit lucky over here as the climates pretty temperate, I'd probably have a nervous break down in extreme climates, guitars really just react the same way as a certain part of a male anatomy when the temperature changes:yes:

Agree with yours and Wills comments, like other structures it's down to how they're built if the craftsmanship is low then those guitars will fall apart.:claping:

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Anyone see any long term damage to the neck by taking the all the strings off and putting them back on everytime I restring (appx every other week)?

Interesting question rr, I heard/read somewhere that with acoustics and nylon strings, you should try to keep the tension close to the same during string changing - change either the bass E or A string first, then the other one (E or A depending on which you did first) then the D and on up - I have no idea if it's important but I always do it that way - one string at a time. I'd be interested to see if anyone has any views - I don't think it's a major consideration though, except possibly on a nylon string guitar with no truss rod.

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Again, I don`t think that a guitar will have any problems with string changes, all at once or 1 at a time. I always take all mine off at once, mostly as this makes it easier to give clean the guitar.

Will

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I reckon that's got to be one of the biggest fallacies on the net...has anybody ever bought a new guitar with instructions to "Only change one string at a time" included?

The only thing I'd be concerned about Random is conditioning the fretboard every couple of weeks! I do my fretboards every couple of years.

FOCL at the "male" analogy Starsailor:claping:

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has anybody ever bought a new guitar with instructions to "Only change one string at a time" included?

Has anyone ever bought a new guitar with any instructions at all??? I certainly haven't. The only 'extra' I've ever got is a cardboard box.

And once I had an offer of a free set-up 'later' - the techy guy wasn't working that day so the guitar wasn't set up for me when I bought it.

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Well ... actually there's a very good reason for not taking all the strings off at once.

If you leave at least one string on and in tune you have a reference for tuning the new strings as you fit them. For the new players, or the challenged like me, this can be quite important.

Well maybe not all that important if you have another guitar to tune to.

I don't believe there's any structural reason as far as the guitar is concerned, but I'd bet there's been more than one user who's watched the tuner go up and up, and has never seen the magic letter appear before the string broke.

I rest my case!

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